Brad Guzan or Nick Rimando – Who will replace Tim Howard for USA?

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After Brad Guzan and Nick Rimando play 45 minutes each for the USA against the Czech Republic on Wednesday, it seems as though the battle to replace Tim Howard over the next 12 months isn’t as straightforward as we thought.

Guzan was, and probably still is, the favorite to replace Howard long-term, but Rimando’s second half display against the Czechs was nothing short of sensational and reminded us all of his sublime, if unconventional, talent.

[RELATED: Player ratings, USA vs. Czech Rep.]

Howard’s year-long sabbatical has thrust this discussion into the limelight, as fans of U.S. soccer have long been clambering for Guzan to get more of a chance in goal. How many times have you heard “too bad for Guzan, he has Timmy Howard ahead of him” when dsicussing the USA’s squad? The answer: a lot.

However, Rimando was never in that discussion. Until now.

The Real Salt Lake ‘keeper has suffered from being labelled ‘too short’ and ‘too small to be a goalkeeper’ by many out there. But the man who won the Gold Cup with the USA in 2013, and has been pretty much ever present in Klinsmann’s squad since he took over as boss, is now proving just how good he is. A stunning stat was also pulled out by Paul Carr from ESPN, as Rimando has never lost when playing for the U.S. The Californian ‘keeper has a 13-0-2 record in his 15 caps for the Stars and Stripes. So, he’s a bit of a lucky charm, too, if you believe in superstition.

[RELATED: USA beat Czech Republic 1-0 in Prague]

One of the biggest travesties in Major League Soccer is that Rimando has never won the Goalkeeper of the Year award during his 14-year stint in the league. For Miami Fusion, D.C. United and RSL, he has always been reliable and pulls out highlight-reel saves on a weekly basis. Just ask the locals who watch him at the Rio Tinto. They will not have been surprised by the three stunning stops Rimando made late in the game as the Czechs piled on the  pressure. Rimando made two sprawling saves (watch the highlight video above to see how good they were) with his feet and a few more crucial blocks to keep the home side at bay and persevere the USA’s 1-0 lead. Rimando seems to be grasping this fight for the starters spot and is eager to push Guzan all the way for it.

source: AP
Rimando or Guzan, who you got?

[RELATED: Howard’s sabbatical provides chance for Guzan, Johnson, Hamid]

As for Guzan, his rise in the Premier League with Aston Villa has been a sensational story as the former Chivas USA stopper was released by the Villans in 2012. Without a club, Guzan was quickly signed back up by new Villa manager Paul Lambert and has been the number one ever since. He was Villa’s Player of the Year last season and has already recorded two clean sheets from three matches this campaign.

Guzan didn’t have much to do in his first half display against the Czech Republic on Wednesday, but we know his capabilities. He is still the favorite to replace Howard and many believe that at the age of 29, Guzan should be the preferred choice in goal for the U.S. when the 2018 World Cup rolls around. Rimando will be 39 during the World Cup in four years time, so perhaps that gives Guzan the edge too.

Between now and next year when Howard returns, Guzan has a real battle on his hands just to win the starting spot ahead of Rimando. We all know the U.S. is traditionally a powerhouse in producing goalkeepers, but the strength of it’s second and three string ‘keepers is something else when you consider MLSers Bill Hamid and Sean Johnson are also lined up behind Guzan and Rimando.

Whoever gets the nod to replace Howard permanently over the next 12 months, the U.S. won’t have to worry about the goalkeeping position for quite some time.

That’s a huge plus, even if it provides Klisnmann with one heck of a headache.

Roma-Chelsea reports could see Dzeko, Batshuayi… and Sturridge on the move

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Here’s a wild rumor out of Italy, as Gianluca Di Marzio has UEFA Champions League Round of 16 sides Chelsea and Roma working out a big transfer.

[ MORE: PST chats with Dzeko in July ]

Again, before we lay it out, we know that both clubs would not be able to use Cup-tied players in the UCL and that gives the rumor its unrealistic bent.

Chelsea reportedly is willing to send $62 million and striker Michy Batshuayi on loan to Roma in exchange for Edin Dzeko and Emerson Palmeiri. Reports say Roma is holding out for another $20 million, potentially add-ons.

Dzeko isn’t producing at his otherworldly rate of last season, but is far and away i Lupi’s leading scorer and bagged a brace against Chelsea in the UCL. And Batshuayi scored in Chelsea’s first two matches of the tournament.

There is something to the rumor, at least in terms of Emerson. The London Evening Standard quotes the player’s agent as saying talks are ongoing and the move is a “dream” one for Emerson, who is behind Aleksandar Kolarov on the left back depth chart since returning from injury.

Roma would need a UCL-eligible center forward, as Czech youngster Patrik Schick has been unable to find his scoring boots since a summer move from Sampdoria. Football Italia says, sensationally, that Roma would use some of the money to pry Daniel Sturridge from Liverpool.

Maybe the Emerson move goes through, but the striker swap feels like a headscratcher for Dzeko and Chelsea.

Pardew the latest to scratch head at transfer fees

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West Bromwich Albion manager Alan Pardew is the latest to find himself baffled at the prices on the transfer market.

To be fair to the Englishman, 56, it doesn’t sound like he’s raving in ‘old man yelling at the sky’ fashion. Rather he thinks the numbers are hard for fans to gauge and perhaps it’s causing a disconnect.

[ VIDEO: Premier League highlights ]

And for him, at least, it’s a challenge to sort out whether the prices he’s being quoted are reasonable relative to the market. That makes sense, considering that as Newcastle boss in 2012 he sold Fraser Forster to Celtic for about $3 million and PSG bought Yohan Cabaye — then 28 — from him for $26 million.

Both fees would be a little different right now, we think (from the BBC).

“It’s difficult with the prices now to gauge what’s good value,” Pardew said. “We live in a hyper-inflated world because of the TV money received by the football clubs. Therefore, transfers and wages are going way out of kilter with real life. I think we’re all losing the plot with the figures. It’s just becoming, ‘Oh okay,’ and not even reacting to things any more.”

Now, to play devil’s advocate, if Pardew is actually just old man yelling at the sky, he’d better get out of the manager’s box. The fees aren’t changing for top clubs, which is why Jonny Evans is at risk from a Man City bid but not Newcastle United or Crystal Palace. And the TV money he talks about is going to allow clubs like WBA to hold onto players by offering better wages if they choose that route.

But it’s a fair sentiment regarding how to gauge these numbers. While it’s usually a bit laughable when fans and writers estimate whether clubs have paid too much or sold for too little, managers and administrators risk looking foolish if they agree too low or too high a fee relative to other teams.

Stanford’s Andi Sullivan is the No. 1 pick in NWSL draft

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The Washington Spirit have selected midfielder Andi Sullivan out of Stanford with the first pick in the National Women’s Soccer League draft on Thursday.

Stanford won the NCAA College Cup championship last season. Sullivan scored in the 3-2 Cardinal victory over UCLA. She also won the Mac Hermann Trophy for the nation’s best soccer player.

[ MORE: Top PL storylines — Week 24  ]

Sullivan has made seven appearances with the U.S. national team and has been called into January training camp as the team begins to prepare for World Cup qualifying in the fall.

The Spirit also had the third overall pick, which they used to select midfielder Rebecca Quinn out of Duke.

The Boston Breakers took forward Savannah McCaskill out of South Carolina with the No. 2 overall pick.

The day also featured a number of high-profile trades, including a deal between the Reign and the Royals that sent midfielder Diana Matheson to Utah in exchange for veteran defender Yael Averbuch.

Stoke City adds versatile Greek left-sided man on loan

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New Stoke City boss Paul Lambert is tasked with shoring up a defense which has been bottom half in goals allowed for several seasons, and has made his first move.

[ MORE: Top PL storylines — Week 24  ]

Kostas Stafylidis is a 24-year-old left-sided player with 22 Greek caps to his name, but he’s fallen out of favor at Bundesliga side Augsburg and managed just 31 minutes this season.

He’ll head on loan to the Potteries, where he’ll attempt to aid the leakiest side in the Premier League. Stoke’s 50 goals allowed are eight more than its closest competitor (Watford).

Stafylidis has played left back and left mid for club and country, though he had his most league success last season at left back. He scored four goals and was rated Augsburg’s best field player by WhoScored and its top player overall by Squawka.

And he wants to be there (from StokeCityfc.com):

“As soon as I heard I told my agent directly that I wanted this move,” he added. “I left it to him then, he spoke to the Club more, and then to the trainer and we all wanted to make this move happen. It is good for me, it is good for the Club to bring me here for five months and I am very happy about that.”